We hear the word motivation thrown around a lot, but what does this word really mean? If you look at it, you will realize that it contains the term “motives.” Motives are the “whys” behind behaviors: the needs and wants that drive behavior and explain why we do what we do.
Everyone wishes they had more motivation. Why? Because people realize that motivation is at the root of all changes; and the more motivated we are, the more likely we can change and accomplish our dreams and goals.
Anyone who has had a goal, like wanting to lose 30 pounds, understands that simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough. It’s never enough to just say you want a change to happen.
Saying you want to change must be followed by actions that will take you to your goal.
To realize a goal requires you to take action, and then to have the ability to persist through obstacles and keep going in spite of difficulties. Therein lies the purpose of motivation: if you can develop it, you’ll experience greater consistency, and that means better results.
For the person seeking to have more motivation, the question becomes, “Where does motivation come from?” There are two primary sources of motivation, external & internal.
We’ll begin by discussing external motivation. External motivators originate outside of ourselves and often speak to something that we hold of value. Let’s say, for example, you are a person who loves being in the spotlight and who places great value on money. So one day, Calvin Klein calls you and says, “We would like to pay you five million dollars to put you on every billboard across America modeling our underwear.” It’s safe to say you’d be highly motivated because the money and the potential fame are important to you. Therefore, getting into the best shape of your life in order to realize your dream would seem easy. However, there’s a problem with external motivators: they tend to be temporary. You see, after the photo shoot is over and your bank account is full, it’s highly probable that your motivation to remain in that shape would erode.
If we understand that external motivation is only fleeting and that it can’t keep us motivated over the long term, then the focus of this article isn’t just motivation; rather, it’s really the second source of motivation: self-motivation.
Self-motivation is primarily internally driven and when it comes to maintaining a long-term commitment to ourselves, it is definitely the best motivation to tap into. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that it’s much easier to be self-motivated when we have a positive frame of mind than when we have a negative frame of mind. This truth explains why some people have an easier time with motivation than others. Some people choose to live their lives from a limited mindset, a mindset in which they believe things can’t change no matter what they do. Obviously, this negative outlook would make it quite difficult to get motivated.
On the other hand, those people who live with a growth mindset, a mindset in which they believe anything is possible as long as they stick to it, find it much easier to stay motivated.
It’s important to note that no two people are motivated by the same thing. For example, if I’m talking to you about looking better but you place very little value on your appearance, you’ll be very unmotivated to do what I tell you to.
Now let’s suppose where you place the most value is on your health. One day at your doctor’s visit, he tells you he has some bad news: your A1C is off the charts and that means you are now a Type 2 diabetic! Since your health means more to you than how you look, you’ll be highly motivated to change the lifestyle habits that led to your diabetic status. We can call this the Health Driven Diet.
I’ve seen women eat their way out of a closet of high-end clothes. Since they can no longer fit in any of their pricy outfits and because they value how they look in these clothes, their motivation to change is suddenly very high. We’ll call this one the Fashion Diet.
I’ve seen people make radical changes once they are faced with divorce. They begin eating right and exercising to lose weight and what they are showing us is that they value getting a new mate or being back on the dating scene at a very high level. We’ll call this one the Divorce Diet.
You see, it doesn’t matter where your value lies. Ultimately, what matters is that you discover what is most important to you and use it to your advantage when you can.
Don’t Lose Your Motivation
So how do we avoid losing motivation in a case where the motivation appears to be internally driven? Think about a moment in time when you were really motivated to change. As you reflect upon that time in your life, you may note that the change seemed easy, not hard. Perhaps you worked out six days a week and enjoyed every minute of it. Perhaps you also cooked and carried your food and as a result of your efforts, you got into amazing shape. You were looking good and feeling great about your achievements, but then something changed and one day you abruptly stopped all of it. Before you knew it, you were right back where you started.
When this scenario arises and I ask the client, “What happened? Why did you stop?” I am met with the same type of answer almost every time. Almost all of the clients acknowledge that a particular stressor like work, injury, a death in the family, a loss of a job, or move to a different place has caused them to abandon the positive changes they had made that led to their transformations. What’s interesting here is that while the clients can identify the trigger or stressor that occurred, they fail to see what happened to the internal drive they were experiencing.
It wasn’t the stressor that caused them to stop moving forward; instead, the stress caused their brains to shift into seeing the change as a lot of work involved to continue their progress and once their brains focused on the work coupled with the stressor, they began to feel overwhelmed as opposed to motivated.
Since internal motivation is the strongest motivation there is and it can also be the longest lasting motivation you can ever experience, the question we need to ask ourselves here is how can we create our own internal motivation toward the changes we desire to make?
I’m going to highlight the sentence below because it’s super important when it comes to understanding what people are doing to create internal motivation. Just keep one thing in mind: motivation is fueled by the value you place upon the change. If you don’t attach enough value to your goal, you’ll never make it.
“When your brain is focused on what you get from making changes, you’ll be highly motivated to change. Once your brain starts focusing on the work it takes to change, your motivation to change will disappear.”
If you need extra motivation and desire extra help in attaining your goals, you may benefit from having a personal one-on-one coach. We offer one-on-one nutritional coaching through my Lean Body Coaching, which you can learn more about on www.leanbodycoaching.com.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.